by Olena

Ground Turkey Pasta Bake

Olena Osipov
5 from 60 votes

Ground Turkey Pasta Bake is healthy casserole with ground turkey meat, whole wheat pasta, kale and bubbly cheese. This is restaurant-quality easy dinner with fridge and pantry staples!

Ground Turkey Pasta Bake 

This ground turkey pasta bake is out of this world! I took my 5 year old popular recipe, improved a bit and it turned out amazing!

Penne soaks up delicious tomato sauce with a hint of balsamic and spice. In my house, everyone loves pasta with cheese, I bet in yours too. I just knew that I could sneak in a bunch of kale and nobody would complain. There is melted cheese in between layers and on top, but reasonable amount.

Pair it with a glass of red wine, simple salad and be transported to a fancy restaurant at about $10 per adult, including the wine.

And did I mention this ground turkey pasta dish is easy and fairly quick for a quick weeknight meal, leftovers and even a make ahead freezer meal.

Ground Turkey Meat Pasta Bake Recipe with melted cheese and green onions

Ingredients for Ground Turkey Pasta Bake

  • Pasta: White, whole wheat or gluten free pasta works. Whole grain pasta is more healthy choice as it has more fiber and nutrients than white pasta.
  • Ground turkey: Lean or extra lean ground turkey meat, chicken, beef or pork would be OK.
  • Greens: Nutritional powerhouse, kale is full of fiber, iron and antioxidants. I could see how this casserole would be a perfect candidate for going bad box of spinach. Frozen is fine too – no changes to recipe.
  • Tomato sauce: I am using plain low sodium tomato sauce from a can. If yours is not low sodium, add less salt.
  • Cheese: I am using Mozzarella cheese. I recommend to shred your own as it melts better.
  • Onion, garlic, dried herbs and sweetener: Veggies and herbs add flavour without many calories. Any sweetener will work and it helps to reduce acidity of tomatoes.

How to Make Ground Turkey Pasta Casserole

  • Cook pasta al dente as per package instructions, undercooking by 4 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. cooked penne pasta in pot with water
  • Prep: Spray 9×13 baking dish, preheat oven to 35o F degrees and find large skillet for sauteing.
  • Cook veggies and turkey: Saute onion and garlic for 2 – 3 minutes. Add oregano, rosemary, basil, pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring a few times. Add ground turkey and cook for another 5-7 minutes, breaking meat into pieces and stirring occasionally. sauteing ground turkey with onion and spices in white skillet
  • Make meat sauce: Add tomato sauce, honey, balsamic vinegar and pasta water. Stir, bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Add kale and stir to combine. Now add cooked pasta and stir to combine more. tomato sauce and kale in white skillet
  • Combine pasta with meat sauce: That’s why cooking everything in large skillet is a good idea. Transfer half of the mixture in baking dish, sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese, add remaining mixture and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/4 cups cheese. ground turkey meat sauce and pasta in white skilletGround Turkey Pasta Bake assembled and covered with shredded cheese
  • Bake: Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

This casserole turned out delicious and juicy!

Ground Turkey Pasta Bake in blue baking dish

Serving and Reheating

Serving: Let casserole sit covered for about 10 minutes after baking. It is a general rule with all bakes, to allow flavors to marry each other. Serve hot garnished with parsley, if desired. It serves 6 people very generously and 8 people with a side of a salad.

Speaking of salad, here are simple and quick salads that will go well with this ground turkey pasta:

Reheating: Best would be in a microwave to prevent casserole from drying out.

How to Store and Freeze Casserole

Freeze leftovers: Bake, cool and transfer to plastic or glass airtight containers. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Freeze unbaked: Assemble the casserole, wrap tightly with plastic and aluminum foil on top. When ready to eat, warm up on a counter for 30 minutes to prevent dish from shattering in the oven. Bake from frozen increasing baking time by 15 – 20 minutes.

I remember when I was pregnant, I stocked my freezer with similar casseroles, and they helped a lot once the baby arrived.

Make ahead: If you don’t want to freeze, assemble and refrigerate casserole for up to 24 hours. Don’t forget to cover with plastic wrap and then bake as per recipe.

I hope your family enjoys!

More Ground Turkey Casserole Recipes

Ground Turkey Pasta

ground turkey pasta bake

Ground Turkey Pasta Bake {Easy Kid Friendly Recipe}

Ground Turkey Pasta Bake is healthy casserole with ground turkey meat, whole wheat pasta, kale and bubbly cheese. This is restaurant-quality easy dinner with fridge and pantry staples!
5 from 60 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Casserole
Cuisine: North American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 348kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey extra lean
  • 3 cups (10 oz) whole wheat penne/fusilli pasta uncooked
  • 4 - 5 cups kale stems removed & chopped
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 tbsp oregano dried
  • 1 tsp rosemary dried
  • 1 tsp basil dried
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 28 oz tomato sauce low sodium
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • 2 cups 6 oz mozzarella cheese shredded & divided
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley chopped
  • Cooking spray I use Misto

Instructions

  • Cook pasta al dente as per package instructions, undercooking by 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In the meanwhile, preheat large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and garlic, sauté for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add oregano, rosemary, basil, pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring a few times.
  • Add ground turkey and cook for another 5-7 minutes, breaking meat into pieces and stirring occasionally.
  • Add tomato sauce, honey, balsamic vinegar and pasta water. Stir, bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Add kale and stir to combine. Now add cooked pasta and stir to combine more.
  • Transfer half of the mixture in previously prepared baking dish and sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Add remaining pasta meat mixture and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, let stand for 10 minutes, garnish with parsley and serve hot. With a glass of red wine. OMG, so good!

Notes

  • Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.
  • Freeze leftovers: Bake, cool and transfer to plastic or glass airtight containers. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Freeze unbaked: Assemble the casserole, wrap tightly with plastic and aluminum foil on top. When ready to eat, warm up on a counter for 30 minutes to prevent dish from shattering in the oven. Bake from frozen increasing baking time by 15 - 20 minutes.
  • Make ahead: If you don't want to freeze, assemble and refrigerate casserole for up to 24 hours. Don't forget to cover with plastic wrap and then bake as per recipe.
  • Reheating: Best would be in a microwave to prevent casserole from drying out.
  • More protein: You can use 2 lbs of ground turkey to up the protein. Also ground chicken works.
  • Greens: Spinach can be substituted for kale, especially that going bad in the fridge box staring right at you. When my spinach goes bad, I freeze the box to use later in a casserole recipes and smoothies.
  • Pasta: White, whole wheat or gluten free pasta works. You want pasta to be short and with crevices to scoop up the sauce.
  • Sodium content: Reduce sodium if using regular and not low sodium tomato sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 348kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 489mg | Potassium: 607mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 7922IU | Vitamin C: 95mg | Calcium: 246mg | Iron: 2mg
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olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

117 comments on “Ground Turkey Pasta Bake

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  1. 5 stars
    My husband and I are trying to eat better this year. He bought a thing of turkey meat and we had no idea what to do with it. So I googled some recipes and I came upon this one so we tried it out. And we both really liked it. So much flavor! I substituted the kale for spinach. Just so I could put it in our smoothies and such, I’m sure I could have used kale, but I didn’t. Left out the vinegar as well, but I was highly impressed with this meal.

  2. 5 stars
    Happy New Year! EVERYONE at my table loved this casserole! It was easy to make and very tasty! Thank you so much!

  3. 5 stars
    Made these pasta last night. Love but but not quite found of ground meat in it.

    Well, it was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!! Both hubby and I kept saying yumm, it’s so good 😁

    Looking forward to eat the leftovers..!
    It’s coming back for sure.

  4. 5 stars
    A long time ago I had tried a pasta dish with whole wheat penne, and my husband and I didn’t care for the whole wheat pasta. Because of that I ALMOST decided to make this with white penne, but a little voice in my head said that every single ifoodreal dish I have made has been sooo good, so give it a try. WE LOVED IT!!! Packed full of flavor, and so nice and cheesy!

  5. 5 stars
    Such an easy, delicious meal that the whole family loves! I am a big fan of anything that isn’t too unhealthy that my husband and girls ask for. I made this with a dairy-free mozzarella and it is still delicious. It has become my go to meal to make and bring to friends when they have babies. Everyone loves it and asks for the recipe. Thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    We needed a low-fiber dinner, so I was happy to see this recipe, straightforward and quick. I browned a pound of ground turkey breast, onion, garlic, a 14 oz. can of tomato puree plus a small glass of white wine and sprinkle of dried basil. We had no spinach, kale, or green stuff, so I scraped three big carrots, diced them, and cooked them for six minutes with twelve ounces of pasta. I threw on lots of mozzarella and some cheddar too. Result? Beautiful baked pasta dish. Will do this again. Thanks.

  7. 5 stars
    This recipe was very good. I was surprised how much honey could be used in a recipe instead of sugar. The wheat noodles was very good. I did not use the parsley. I did not like how that tasted and I did not use the garlic this time. Regardless the recipe was very delicious for a low calorie meal. Thank you for your recipe

  8. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. Second time cooking this and I enjoyed. So straight forward and thorough instructions. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

  9. 5 stars
    My husband and I absolutely loved the Ground Turkey Pasta Bake. Thank you so much. It was easy and fun to make. Thanks again.

  10. 5 stars
    This dish was the best dish I have made in a long time… Thank you so much for your fast/healthy and delicious recipes..

    My kiddos love it too <3

    1. Good day.. i was wondering if I can stie in q little ricotta cheese? Also the serving portion how much per serving ?

  11. 5 stars
    I tried this last night, i had most of the ingredients on hand, I didnt do the tomato sauce or honey but had some Nelsons own garlic and herb spaghetti sauce and added Mushrooms. Between 2 adults and 3 teenagers there was not a bit left! Definitely adding it to the dinner rotation! Thank you so much!

  12. 5 stars
    Absolutely loved it! I used one pound of ground turkey as I don’t like that much meat and added a red and yellow bell pepper, zucchini and some mushrooms. I was bit skeptical as first time recipes don’t turn out that good but this one was fantastic! Thank you for this recipe!

  13. 5 stars
    Very tasty 🙂 I added chopped zucchini. Both my husband and I loved it!
    *Did not add the honey/ maple syrup – still tasted great to us!

  14. 5 stars
    It was soo good! I added some zucchini, yellow and red paprika since I had it in the fridge. Very easy to make, looks pretty and everyone in my family loved it!! This is a keeper!

  15. 5 stars
    Very good! The kale had a different texture, but as long as you ate it with the rest of the dish it was good together.

  16. 5 stars
    This was delicious and simple to make! I agree with what you wrote in this post: our bodies do need “good carbs to prevent from overeating other foods and going over [our] daily calorie intake.” I used to omit carbs as much as possible because I tend to gain weight easily, but I would be left feeling hungry after eating, and snacking on unhealthy foods to fill me up. Now, I know what foods to eat, and I eat when my body tells me to, and I’ve stopped counting calories.

  17. Hi there! Is there any way that I can substitute spinach for the kale because we have no kale, only spinach

  18. 5 stars
    Whole family adored it! I blended the veggies (added more than spinach) and sauce so that the spinach wasn’t as ‘offensive’ to my husband and daughter 😉 They’ve requested again multiple times already!

  19. 5 stars
    Very delicious! I used kale and spinach and aguave syrup instead of honey or maple syrup and it turned out great!

  20. 5 stars
    Very good! The whole family liked it. I used gluten free noodles and spinach instead of kale. Thanks for all the great recipes!

  21. 5 stars
    I’ve made this bake so many times now. It is absolutely delicious, somehow light for a pasta bake, and feeds the family for days on end. ???

  22. 5 stars
    What a great recipe. I used chickpea pasta, switched the kale for spinach and added chopped broccoli. I made the bake through step 4 earlier in the day, covered the dish put it in the refrigerator. That evening for dinner I put the dish in the oven let it bake during the salad/soup course (including under a medium boiler for 4 minutes) and served with a side of roasted root vegetables. Easy, delicious and a quick clean up. Thanks so much.

  23. 5 stars
    Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! I have a gluten and dairy intolerant family 🙂 so I substituted gluten-free noodles and gluten-free cheese and it turned out lovely!

  24. 5 stars
    Wow. Fantastic. This is a keeper recipe for weekly rotation. Substituted kale for spinach. Added chicken sausage to give it a bit more texture. It was very very good.

  25. 5 stars
    I loved this casserole! It was fairly easy to put together and very flavorful. I substituted fresh spinach for kale and it wilted down really well. I will definitely be making this again.

  26. Zucchini is 90% water so unless you are ok with that. It is going to be a bit watery. Kale are greens with releasing no water. Also depends how much you use. Maybe dice, salt it and squeeze in a towel to get rid of some moisture.

    1. Great, thank you so much for the feedback! I will leave review and let you know how it comes out 🙂

      Also, thanks so much for your recipes! They have been a huge help for me as I’m learning how to cook healthier, real food for my family. Your recipes are great!!

  27. 5 stars
    I love this recipe – so delicious and doesn’t feel heavy. Thank you!

    I wonder about the nutrition information. To calculate calories, how big did you make each serving (9×13 dish makes approx 8 servings, but how big are those)? Thank you for any help with that!

  28. 5 stars
    Made with spinach instead of kale…it was delicious!!! My 3.5 year old had 2 bowls. Will definitely be making this again!!

  29. 5 stars
    Quick, easy and delicious!! Love the kale in this casserole. I used chickpea pasta and raw cheddar to make a little healthier topped with Parmesan. Cheese…delicious!!

  30. 5 stars
    I loved how easy this was to assemble. I also loved that the ingredients were ones I had on hand. I used a red lentil pasta, and using these directions, it came out with the perfect texture.

  31. 5 stars
    This was a hit tonight! Officially requested to be in the dinner rotation! Didn’t change a thing, except used only 1 lb of turkey and forgot to add the pasta water! Oops 🙂 Even still, it was delicious. I added a few dashes of garlic salt before putting it in the baking dish. Thank you for the recipe!

  32. 5 stars
    This recipe was fantastic and very delicious. Everyone in my household loved it!
    Great way to incorporate the might Kale:-)
    Thank You!

  33. 5 stars
    Turned out amazing! Filling but does not leave you feeling bloated. Tastes great. Definitely will make this again. Awesome post workout meal.

  34. 5 stars
    Tried this for dinner tonight. Didn’t have the tomato sauce so did a can of whole tomato’s instead. Delicious. Family loved it.

  35. 5 stars
    This looks delicious! Olena, could you replace the pasta with brown rice, quinoa, or zucchini pasta? My husband is not a pasta fan so I’m hoping to substitute

  36. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner but added some red pepper flakes for heat and used honey instead of maple syrup. I also used frozen kale and organic ziti. My family loved it and so did I.

  37. 5 stars
    Really tasty, I only had 1 pound of ground beef and regular white pasta. I also had some organic vegetable pasta sauce instead of tomato sauce. I just went for it and put what I had in there. Not altering any other ingredients. Kept the portions the same. Except the kale. I accidentally doubled it. But you couldn’t even tell. Still tasted great!

    1. Casseroles like this one are highly forgiving, use what you have on hand keeping the ratios dry:liquid the same, if you do not expect some traditional original Italian pasta bake that jumped off a Bon Appetite cover. Good job improvising, Kimberly!

  38. 5 stars
    I’ve made this a least a dozen times in the past year or so, SO delicious! Would you make any changes to cook time or less tomato sauce/liquid if using all frozen kale?

  39. Hi Olena,

    Can you please help me understand the measurements on the pasta and cheese? What is the “oz” amount in parentheses?

    Thanks!
    Kathryn

    1. That is if you are using scale for measuring. You can use cups. Some people use scale or to be more precise I add weight. Because for cheese you can pack cup lightly and not add enough.

  40. 5 stars
    What exactly is the reason for the honey? I have yet to make the dish, so I’m not complaining, just curious. Not something you hear of in Italian cooking.

    1. A little bit of sweetener is added to any tomato sauce dish to offset the acidity of tomatoes. I use more naturally occurring version, honey, rather than processed sugar. Try not to add some and then taste after adding to see the difference.:)

  41. 5 stars
    I had a couple of friends over and I did not know what to cook. I stumbled into this recipe and found I had all the ingredients. Needless to say, this dish was a hit! Thank you for all your posts! You are informative and you crack me up!

    1. That is so cool! Yeah, this one is very easy ingredients. Haha, glad I can put a smile on your face.:) You are welcome.

    1. Spot on, Michelle. I make this type of bake mostly during Fall/Winter and more than you because I have kids.:) Thank you for stopping by. You always leave me comments and I don’t. I don’t have time to read anything.:(

  42. This looks so delicious! I love how it looks so decadent, but it is healthy. Thanks so much for linking this to the Weekend Potluck. We are your newest followers on facebook. Hope your come back to the potluck this week!

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